The Love Pit Blog

The Love Pit Blog

Pit Bulls – Where do they come from?

Part of getting to know your dog is understanding where they come from and what they were bred for or rather, what comes genetically natural to them. First, what is a Pit Bull? A pit bull isn’t a breed of dog but rather a description of physical appearance. “Pit Bulls” or “Bully” breeds contain the following: Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and are referred using the term “Pit Bull”. So, let’s get to know our beloved bullies by starting with their history. Pit Bull ancestry starts with looking at the earlier known breeds and what they were bred for. The American Pit Bull Terrier is one of the earliest registered breeds known with their ancestry being traced all the way back to the 12th century and being a cross between the ancestors of the Bulldog and Mastiff.  The pit bull type breeds were originally bred to help with large animals like bulls and bears eventually being used for the now illegal blood sports of bull baiting and dog fighting and finally in the early days of conquering the American West, farmers used them to help with livestock. They were bred to be people friendly with excellent temperaments. The American Pit Bull was even a celebrated at one point within the American culture. Some of the most famous being pictured below.



Sergeant Stubby, c.1920 – The most decorated military dog in history. He earned two stripes, a Purple Heart, several medals from adoring French fans, and the hearts of countless Americans for his bravery also has his name on a brick in the Liberty Monument for soldiers from the First World War that reads: “Sergeant Stubby, Hero Dog of WWI, A Brave Stray.”


Pete the Pup, aka Petey – “The Little Rascals” was filmed in the 1920s and ’30s, when pit bulls were America’s dog. Watching the shorts, it’s easy to see just why pit bulls like Petey were considered nanny dogs. Whether Petey was paired with Wheezer, Stymie, Spanky or another kid, he was there to help them, protect them, entertain them and slather them with affection”


Popsicle – “The Number 1 United States Customs Dog found during a drug bust in a freezer where he had been left to die after being used as a bait dog for dog fighters. Not soon after his rescue, Popsicle began training at the Canine Enforcement Training Center in Front Royal, VA. He then went on to work at the Pharr and Hidalgo bridges in Texas. While working at the Pharr bridge, Popsicle alerted to drugs in a tractor trailer. It turned out to be a ton and a half of cocaine with a street value of $139,605,000, the largest cocaine seizure in the McAllen area in 10 years.”

Of course, as their popularity rose, overbreeding occurred as did irresponsible owners. This resulted in the breed developing a bad reputation; a bad reputation they don’t deserve but still carry with them today. Most pit bulls, however, are upstanding citizens and excellent, loving family members. However, thanks to today’s information highway and media frenzy, just a couple of “bad apples” keep this bad reputation alive.

There are many, like two of the famous pups below, entering the “workforce” and making a difference! Their general willingness to please and trainability make them great candidates for law enforcement and therapy.

Shaka is a Pit Bull that was rescued out of NY and became a K9 officer for Milwaukie PD.

One of the graduates of Austin’s first therapy training programs for pit-bull “type” dogs.


Through education, training and general myth busting, pit bull advocates are combatting this reputation… and making headway! YAY ADVOCATES! In the coming weeks and months, we will be addressing some of those myths floating around as well as diving more in-depth into good activities and “jobs” for our pitty friends. Stay tuned!

For more on pit bull history, visit:

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